The Albury’s Sail Shop has been around a long time! In fact most visitors to Man O War Cay have the Sail Shop on their to do list because of their reputation.
The original sail maker on the Island was Nathan Albury in the late 1800’s and then his son Norman took over. They made the sails according to the way they made them in England. The Sail shop was located where the Mary E. Albury High School sits today which is behind where Uncle Wills boat shed was. They stayed in that location until 1989 when they moved into the building on the waterfront where they are today.
When Norman married Selina, or Lina as she was called, she helped make the sails while she was raising 6 children. (the ultimate multi tasker) She would wax the thread with bees wax so when it was sewn, it would seal the needle holes in the material making it water tight. Norman used to order supplies from the Iron Mongery shop in Nassau and in one shipment he received something called a ditty bag. A bag that sail makers used to keep all their supplies in like needles, thread, leather palm glove, fid ect.
For 2 hours a day, Uncle Will would turn on his generator and the Sail shop would tap into that power enabling the Sail shop to run their sewing machines. In that 2 hours, Lina sewed sails with the same sewing machine Annie uses today, and if Lina finished sewing sails early and she still had generator power, she would piece together bags and sew them using Norman’s original ditty bag as a template. That is how the Sail Shop Bag was born. She made ditty bags for everyone and when she had more scrapes from Norman’s sails she started making other bags like totes, over nite bags and shave kits.
In the 1960’s when her daughter Lois was old enough to start sewing, Lina put her to work. Lois was an adequate seamstress, but her true calling was public relations! She was the best advertisement the Sail shop had. She was easy to talk with and everyone enjoyed her company.
Annie started sewing bags about 45 years ago, after her daughter Caroline got married. Annie had a family to raise also. When Randy was born, she and her husband Richard, used to cut out the pieces for the bags while Randy slept. Then in the morning she would take them down to the Sail shop so they could be sewn into bags. Around that time the seamstress’ were Patricia, Mary and Belle. Shortly after, Caroline was born and the assembly line continued until Caroline got married. Then Annie started sewing full time and Lois took over as full time public relations officer, or Island Ambassador, which ever suited her at the time.
At one point Lois decided to replicate a popular jacket that the sailors were wearing up north. it was a cumbersome pull over jacket that laced up at the neck. Lois thought a zip up version would be better, so she started making those. Its popularity increased when Robert Redford came into the shop and bought one! Although that was short lived and the sail shop stopped making the jackets and went back to what they knew best. We have one of those jackets in the Museum today. Unfortunately it isn’t the one worn by Robert Redford.
There have been many famous people that have visited the Sail shop including Robert Redford, Perry Como, Kenny Rogers, Andy Garcia, Alton Brown, Kenny Chesney,Derek Jeeter, Beyonce & JZ and Leonardo DiCaprio just to name a few. The ladies have learned that most of these celebrities don’t want to be recognized, so ladies tend to look unfazed when the celebs come in.
Over the years there have been many ladies who have sewn at the Sail shop. Some of them are Tuppy, Ida, Arelia, Rosina, Tammy, Theresie, Fanny and Maryann. I know its all in a days work for most of these ladies, but actually they are part of history. History in the making…….
Stop in and say hi next time you are on the Island. Tell them you saw them on the Blog, they would love that!
i just got got a couple of great old photos from Maripat Berry, take a look!